Air traffic controllers slip of the tongue nearly caused deadly plane crash

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One aircraft controller's "slip of the tongue" almost caused a deadly crash between two planes on a runway in Paris's main airport, a report has revealed.

According to a report released on Tuesday, the planes were a mere 300 feet from each other following a pivotal mistake made in the control room of the Charles de Gaulle airport in July last year.

The French air safety investigation revealed that, in an almost lethal mistake, the controller told a United Airlines carrier to land on the right side, instead of the left side, of a runway where other planes had been instructed to take off.

Despite the crew in the United Airlines carrier using the words "understand" and "sidestep for 9 right" to confirm their unexpected change of landing destination, the controller failed to read their message and correct her mistake.

She proceeded to tell an EasyJet plane to line up for takeoff on runway 09R.

The EasyJet crew, however, questioned the controller on the oncoming United Airlines plane that they reported as likely to result in a potential collision.

With a last minute-warning from the controller, the United Airlines flight missed the EasyJet plane by just 300 feet, managing to abort its landing and ascend once more.

The report looking into the event attributed the controller's lack of sight on the 09 runways as a factor in the near tragedy.

Pieces of equipment in the French airport's control room that facilitates a view of the 09 runways appeared to be broken and the controller was reported to be working at a different screen.

The report also revealed that she had been confused by a previous request from a different plane that had also sought to land on the right side of the 09 runway.

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It was thought lack of practice as a result of the reduced air traffic through the pandemic may have been influential.

The investigation also revealed that the United Airlines' crew's use of the non-standard term of "understand" instead of "confirm" when responding to the controller's mistaken instruction may have confused the situation further.

  • Plane Crash

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